In a day and age of music and listeners being"dumbed down" as a result of poor quality found in the ever popular mp3 technology, availability of home studios, and the growing number of indie artists and labels, many people might argue about "quality." As a result, music connoisseurs and successful producers have ideologies and philosophies on what it means to have "quality music." Regardless of your preferences or taste in music, there is a formula to what makes a quality album become commercially viable, which means the music can be sold.
Now, I do not want to turn this into an article. Rather, this is designed to promote thinking and open the floor for discussion or debate.
Before laying the formula out there, let me just say that it is absolutely essential to be strategic, planned, and thoughtful BEFORE embarking on an album release. The biggest reason that alot of projects fail or do not receive the attention they deserve is due to spontaneous or last minute decision making. Record execs start planning for releases on multiple-album record deals years in advance and promotions is a component built into alot of the better record contracts. This ensures artists and other people involved in the production will know how much money and time will be spent and the efforts that will be exhausted to get exposure for the record.
There are three major elements to a successful campaign to sell records: promotions, production, and distribution. Timing and strategy are keys to implmenting your plans for each of these elements. The major elements occur in phases that are both synchronous and continuous. In other words, they go hand in hand, but must also be segmented.
In regard to promotions, this includes an entire marketing PLAN that is written, articulated, and shared with the team - complete with long term and short term GOALS with things that cover the spectrum from TV and radio interviews or news releases to search engine rankings and web advertising or street promotions. There is alot of information available and lots of books in the stream of commerce. For any newbies that are reading this, my favorite is a book called "This Business of Music" which is available on Amazon and Google.
Next, in the realm of production let's get real. There is not a "home studio" going that can replace the dynamics that come from recording in a world renowned studio like Capitol Records and Studios in Los Angeles or Quad Studios in New York City. or The Hit Factory in Miami (which I have never been to.... .but plan on working there someday). There is something about building an "industry buzz" and credibility for a quality album that comes from working in these places. The other dynamic is name recognition. To translate, you should work with others who have a name and established track record in the business to set yourself apart from the pack. Now, the other elements to production that I will address over time are pre-production, production, and post-production. I could write a novel on each of these facets that are essential to the "creative process."
Last, is the element of distribution, which needs to be factored into the promotions PLAN. Without a distribution PLAN, there will not be any success or hope for funding additional future projects. With the power of the internet these days, there really is not a need for a "record deal." Being signed is not what it's cracked up to be, unless you want to owe a bunch of money and use props and equipment that is leased or rented.
Now, I am just a marketing and promotion guy, who has been involved in production at different stages and in a variety of capacities. I hope this helps you to begin thinking and planning for your project.